Thursday, February 28, 2013

Waiting Room Phobia

Dear Son,

Today was your eighteen month checkup.  Boy, do we hate doctors’ offices.  Let me state that although I believe there isn’t anyone who doesn’t hate waiting rooms, WE hate them more. 

You, Dad, and I have actually been in enough waiting rooms in your short time that you’d think we‘d desensitize ourselves by now.  That our heart-rate wouldn’t increase a little crossing the threshold (not touching anything with our hands of course—elbows, knees, and feet are acceptable though), that our palms wouldn’t sweat, that our stomachs wouldn’t turn.  I have to actively fight the urge to just stand (chairs are ripe with germs) at the optimal 6 feet from EVERYONE in the room (sick or well, I don’t care) while clutching you to my body until the nurse calls your name—I’ve done this actually and I think it makes other people uncomfortable, but again: I don’t care.  You see I live in a world where I don’t pretend that the germs aren’t calling the shots.  Think about those tiny organisms invading our much, much bigger human bodies, making us miserable, incapacitating us.  Sure Suzy Q. and Johnny can run around the Well Waiting Area with a snot nose and lingering cough (you’re on my S#*! list parents of Suzie Q. and Johnny.  One day, I’ll explain what this kind of list is—a long, long time from now) and none of the other parents will worry.  No big deal, right? WRONG.  Many nights have your father and I set the alarm for every two hours so that we can give you a nebulizer treatment because you’ve caught a little cold. More than once have we been to the E.R. at 5 a.m. (it’s always 5 a.m.) because you couldn’t breathe.  I stock pile the remainder of any prescription steroids in the medicine cabinets—oldest in the front, newer in the back—in case of an emergency.  No matter how many times you’ve had a cold, a virus, the croup; it never gets any easier hearing you struggle to breathe.  And this is probably the seed of my WRP (Waiting Room Phobia).

But you are such a trooper, kid. Strong, patient, and good-natured through it all.  As you’ve gotten older, you’ve become more resilient (despite my refusal to leave the house whenever I see “Sick baby” trending on Facebook statuses).  So today, I thought I’d take it a little bit easier in the WR.  After checking in (when I couldn’t find my own pen to use—tip: always have your own pen handy, son, no matter where you are), we used hand wipes two times before I’d even made it to a chair in the well area.  There were too many people in the room for me to find a chair that was 6 feet from everyone, so I settled for a chair in the corner, that way I had my back to no one –all threats (thanks again, parents of Suzy Q. and Johnny) were visible.   Now that you are more mobile and curious in new surroundings I worried that you might whine and squirm to get down--which is absolutely OFF LIMITS FOREVER.  But thank goodness, you are an introvert like me, perfectly happy to sit in my lap and observe the absurdity around you. 
Kids rolling on the floor.  Kids coughing and wiping their hands and faces all over the windows—I admit the view of the apple orchards from the 4th floor is pretty cool, but really? Is that necessary!  Kids TOUCHING EACH OTHERS FACES—grossest thing I’ve seen all week.  Parents coughing.  Parents wearing Pooh shirts (this is a double entendre—I’ll explain that one day too).  I tried to think clean thoughts.  I thought of the NICU and the Scrubbing-in sink.  I wondered where I could get and install one of these in our home.

By the time they called our name, which was a good 15 minutes; you had decided that it was okay to talk to the cute newborn baby girl who was trying to sleep next to us.

 Aye, (hi) you greeted her. 

And they told you how cute you were and you smiled for them.

Buh-bye, you waved when we got up to leave.

So, perhaps it’s not me who’s really giving a lesson or saying anything meaningful about my stupid Waiting Room Phobia, maybe it’s you who is teaching your Mom a thing or two.  That maybe it’s OK, to say hello once in a while.  We made it out of there alive, after all, and at least you smiled—if only that once.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Bears all things

Dear Son,

Sometimes we read On the Night You Were Born —mostly because you are enamored with the polar bears dancing under the moon on the cover—because it is a great story about,well, see title.  And the words couldn’t be truer, how miraculous it is, how wonderfully and fearfully we are all made.  But every story is unique; some are happy, some are excruciating, some scary, some confusing, some joyous.  This one is yours—a little bit of everything, with the happiest ending of all:

The evening your father and I checked into the hospital,fourth floor, there was a full moon scheduled. It was a Friday in the middle of a blazing hot August.  There was no room in the Labor and Delivery Wing.  Even more women were laboring away in the Mother-Baby recovery rooms in the adjacent wing.

The influence of the moon is great, son.  It causes the oceans to flood and ebb.  It wields control over the tides, that small, cold rock in our orbit.  Its own gravitational pull is a force to reckon with, causing huge, salty bodies of water on Earth’s surface to slosh, to swell according to her position in the skies.  This is undisputed.  But folklore (and werewolf movies) suggests that the moon has power over other bodies too, namely our own.  Even great philosophers believed that a full moon could induce lunacy (punny, right?) and that night, many moons ago, I believed that maybe it could induce labor, which is only a little like lunacy.

I was no stranger to the fourth floor.  I had been there once a week for the past three weeks for non-stress testing.  You were a handful, kid.  But handing my insurance information through the little glass window for the umpteenth time, I was ready.  I was 38 weeks pregnant,wearing maternity jorts (jean-shorts, it’s a thing) and I was r-e-a-d-y.  I was relaxed and non-sweaty (compared to all the squirmy women being wheeled around me) and excited to think that the next time I left this hospital it would be with you in my arms.

Your Dad left work early and we settled into our room where I was to be induced.  According to the Doctor, it was no big deal that we didn’t have a laboring room ready.  She didn’t expect to see you for 24 more hours,at least, which was when she was on-call again (but she, not the practice’s mid-wife, had to be there anyway because you were what they call “high-risk”). 

“These rooms are more comfortable, anyway,” added the nurse.  Which is funny, because comfortable is not a thing you are in hospitals.  Nope.

So they induced me with some drug, the name of which I can’tremember, not Pitocin.  They stuck me with needles and hooked me up to monitors so they could keep tabs on you.  My parents stepped right off a transatlantic flight and came to visit us.  We watched T.V. and I ate graham crackers and sipped watery juice. 
Sometime before dinner the nurse forbade me to eat anything else and removed the induction drugs.  Something on the monitor had alarmed her and she rushed into our room with a handful of pillows and started rolling me around in the bed.  Your heart rate had dropped, but she got it back up again. The Doctor came to visit and said if that happened again (it didn’t) we would be going into surgery. She also said that if I planned on getting any sleep that night, I should take an Ambien.  I declined, and she said she would write the script anyway—just in case.  At shift change, the new nurse brought me a little blue pill in a paper cup. 

“What’s this?” I said.

“Ambien.  The script was in your chart.”

“Oh, I don’t know…”

“Trust me, you’re going to want this,” she said. 

So I succumbed to the peer pressure, and this is where the story gets hazy.  The following is an account I’ve had to piece together from eye-witnesses (mainly, your father):

Sometime in the middle of night, though in hospitals it’shard to tell what’s day and night, I stumble with all my monitors and accoutrements into the bathroom to g-e-t-s-i-c-k (don’t like any of the words to describe this, so, going into details about labor…well, I’ll just skim over most of the icky). Then I paged the nurse for anti-nausea meds.  Several times in a row. 

“On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your pain?” the nurse continually asked.  I just couldn’t understand this question.  What’s one? A splinter, a stubbed toe…but don’t those hurt terribly?  What is a ten? A missing limb?  And if I’ve never experienced any of these,how will I know?  Two seemed like a good answer.  I didn’t want to be a drama queen about it.  I stuck with a solid two throughout the night.  I’m not impervious to pain but I just have a hard time feeling it in numbers.

Finally, the night nurse got smart and thought that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t feeling this pain-scale of numbers thing.  Give me colors, words: What’s your pain on a scale of purple to silver?  Purple being a happy pain and silver being excruciating? Ok.  Anything but numbers.

The nurse checked to see if I was dilated.  I was 5 cm. F-I-V-E centimeters and feeling two.  You can give me a pat on the back someday for this. 

It was time to roll me into a just-ready-5-minutes-ago labor and delivery room.

“Epidural. Epidural,” I was trying to mumble through my Ambien-coma.  It was around 5:30 a.m.

I got one, but it was too late to feel its sweet effects.  In the time it took the nurse to run-walk me to the delivery room, I was 10 cm and good to go.

(Skimming over the icky here).

Let the record show that your father was a trooper, my rock, and strong through it all.

After an hour of pushing I sobered up a bit and committed to actually holding you in my arms before the nurses had to change shift again at7 a.m. 

You were born, however, on a Saturday at 8:34 a.m. on August13th.  While other people in our time-zone were sleeping-in, or starting the coffee and thinking about doughnuts, (or going to bed in the case of our night nurses), we were welcoming you. 

But you were maybe not ready for all the hustle and bustle,the hoopla, the blazing hot summer, the moon and its tides, the numbers assigned to pain.  I admit, the world can be a crazy place but we wanted so badly to welcome you into it.  Safely. The nurses grabbed you up and I waited to hear you cry.  I waited 10 seconds I turned my eyes toward the table where the nurses were suctioning out your mouth.

Twenty, maybe thirty seconds passed and still, I waited and hoped.  I had seen this before on TLC’s:A Baby Story.  I remember thinking that it always turned out fine.  Fine, fine,fine.  Buttons were being pushed. Rubber-soled shoes were squeaking, hurriedly around the room. Time seemed to pass so slowly.

Reinforcements. Another team to work on you.  A doctor in blue scrubs rushed in, she was wearing red One-Stars for her shift that Saturday morning.

“Out of the way,” I think I remember her saying.  There must have been 20 people in the room,or maybe just 7 or 8.  I remember feeling so helpless.  In those slow seconds, I think Dad and I got to know the Man Upstairs a little better.

Finally, after a whole 60 seconds you came back to us.  I heard a weak cry, as if to test your pipes out, and then you really let loose with the wailing.  When the doctors and nurses were satisfied with your pinkish color, I was finally able to hold you for the first time.

Of all the times I had imaged holding you for the first time, it never occurred to me you'd have no teeth. Staring into a wailing pink hole your smooth shiny gums were so strange to me, so beautiful to me.  You were perfect.

But they took you away after that.  Wheeled you away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit  and your father followed.  I had to stay behind for a little bit, until Icould feel my legs again, and the nurse tried her best to get me to eat something while I entertained visitors.  Family members who were on their way to the beach passed through.   Family members who were still jet-lagged stepped in.  Eating and entertaining were not things I felt like doing, son.  That half-hour felt like a life-time, missing you. When everyone had cleared out, and the nurse helped me into the wheelchair, I began to cry.  And that sweet nurse (sadly I cannot remember her name) said:

“Oh, you’re just like me; trying to be strong for everyone…waiting until everyone is gone.” And I cried harder because I was not strong at all.  And then she hugged me while we both cried a little more.  We were worried for you,son.  We were all rooting for you.     

On the short ride to the place where they were keeping you,I thought of the hospital tour your father and I took during an all-day childbirth class.  “And this is the NICU, God forbid you have to go in there,” the guide said. And, suddenly, I was mad because we were the “God forbid” people. 


(God bless you if you ever have to walk in those shoes.  And bless the NICU workers everywhere…theyare special people.)


I was overwhelmed with all the tiny beds and cubes and whirring machines in that room and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to recognize you,my own baby, since we had spent such a short time together. But then I saw all the thick, black hair, and knew it was you; that you were mine, and I was yours.      

Though the good doctors said you wouldn’t have to stay long in the NICU, there were still some things you had to learn how to do before you could leave: breathe without taking any extended breaks and eat (two things at which you now excel).

Sadly, I could not take you with me when we checked out of the hospital two days later.  Imagine not wanting to leave the hospital.  Imagine it.  I wanted to curl up on the floor and sleep next to your little bed in the loud, beeping, rubber-soles-squeaking  NICU.

In the morning, the transporter arrived with a chair to wheel me downstairs.  It was time to go.  It seemed like a million years ago that I had been excited for this moment—the moment where I got to leave the hospital with you in my arms.  I thought that if I could just sit there in that hospital bed a little longer, things would surely have to go my way.  The way I had imaged it. The way I had planned.

The transporter waited.

I crossed my arms.

“Checking out today?” she said.

“Do I have to ride in that thing?” I said.

“I think so…well, you’ll want to anyways.”

And, so it goes. While your Dad packed up the car, I was wheeled down to the lobby carrying not a fat, sleepy baby but a leafy-green potted plant—some congratulatorygift—while the woman in front of me held a freshly bathed baby. 

I will admit that I was so angry, son.  I just wanted you home with us.  Why, oh why did I have to be one of the “God forbid” people? I stupidly wondered. 

But you were right where you needed to be with people who knew how to take care of you, and the people that loved you (who are many) visited often.  Although you stayed in the NICU for only seven days, it felt like a century. Your father and I were there five times a day, feeding, changing and bathing you.  We called every night at 3a.m. to check on you.  We got to do the normal things.  It just wasn’t how we planned it.  There’s a saying that goes, Tell God your plans


And that is the story of the “marvelous, wonderful [morning] you were born.”  I’m sure Dad and I will tell it to you many times.  And maybe the details will become more imaginative over time—the doctors: superheroes, the moon: a powerful force over human actions. Or maybe those things were already true. No matter, this story will go down in family history forever and ever as the greatest, most miraculous and trying, but definitely most rewarding experience.   


I leave you with this passage from another great book I hope you’ll also enjoy reading one day:

Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up,
Does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil;
Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

-1 Corinthians 13


Reading this verse, I always chuckle a little when I reach the last line.  It reminds me not only of child-bearing,but also of polar bears dancing under that big, beautiful moon.

May you always love and be loved,


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Favorite Things

Dear Son,

I thought it would be fun to post on here some of your favorite things right now.  I'll show you with pictures and captions.

Nothing makes you happier than flinging all the books off of this shelf:

And, this is your favorite book for us to read together:
Reading this, you point and say "Star" many, many times with increasing volume.


You like to watch silly videos on YouTube.  The ones with singing animals and/or inanimate objects with animate features are your favorite:

You also give plenty of hugs and loving shoves to this furry creature, Abby:


You like to carry these around, point them at the T.V. and grunt, bang them on any hard surface, and sometimes you talk on them like telephones. You love just holding the remote.

You love to carry this little guy around.  He's just your size and, also, he looks kind of like a baby. And also this is really weird...nuff' said.

 One time, I caught you carrying the Buddha baby in one hand and this guy in the other.  Becuase that is how we roll. 
This is Noah from your Little People: Noah's Arc set.  He usually takes the Jeep instead of the arc, if you couldn't tell.
This is another favorite toy of yours, we have several varying figurines like him.
"Skateboard Creeper" Buzz
 Just look at that smile...
 Another thing you love is your Dad's hats.  He wears them often.  We looked for this one in particular for weeks.  You had hidden it in your closet.  Needless to say, it's your favorite hat (Dad's too):

And last, but not least, are these:

When all else fails, have some goldfish. Baby size.

So, there you have it.  Maybe you can look back on this one day (you know, as long as this whole internet thing isn't just a fad) and enjoy reliving some of your favorite things.  Your tastes are constantly evolving though, so I will try to stay current.

Mom and Dad

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Taking Back Boredom


I want you to know that some days there just isn't much going on.  As I was thinking about what to bloggity-blog on here, you sat wearing only a diaper and your brand new sneaks (upon your insistence, of course) and endlessly dropping one of your toy tool-box screws through an empty paper towel tube.  I want to save this image in my head forever because (well, in part because as soon as you saw me with pen and paper your contentment with independent play instantly faded and you climbed into my lap to snatch the pen away) I know that someday you are going to tell me, "I'm bored!"

By the way, this is what you drew:

I remember most of my childhood (sans cable T.V. -read: Disney Channel- until my tweens) repeating the phrase, "I'm bored." To which my father would say, "What I wouldn't give to be bored again."  I didn't understand it then, but I do now.  When you are an adult with resposibilities, and perhaps children, there's no time to be bored.
So, does bored have to be a bad word?  Maybe it isn't the right word, but I want to remember the boring moments with you and Dad most.  I'm sure the internet is already rife with ephemera, and yes, I could write about more salient things like your miraculous birth story, your hospital stays and ambulance rides (when I got carsick), countless IVs and leads and monitors, your MRI, the good, the bad and the ugly of pediatric specialists, and all the worrying and waiting.  And maybe one day I will write about that (when I figure out how). 
But for now I will recount the boring moments when you were an infant and I held you practically all day long, when I brought you into bed in the early morning hours and we snuggled until a more decent hour (like 10 a.m.).  Or when you and me and Dad all sit on the floor and do, well, nothing in particular.  But there's laughing. Lots of laughing.  And now, my favorite part of the day when I sit on the couch with you and look out the window into the cul-de-sac and watch the winter sky turn from blue dark to black dark. 
Maybe I was never bored.  Nevertheless, one day, I hope you can find the joy in being bored.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's your Story?

Dear Son,

Today is your half-birthday.  Happy eighteenth month (plus some) on this planet! We are very blessed to be here together.  Me. You. Dad.  You are such an observant child with big, beautiful eyes, that I'm often wondering what you're thinking. You are seriously eagle-eyed with impeccable attention to detail; just the other day you were pointing fervently at a vauge area in the corner of the house.

"Window?" I asked.

You shook your head.

"Hmm, light?"


"Oh, the trees outside!"

You squinted, still pointing.  By the time you gave me a verbal clue to what you were pointing at, I had convinced myself that maybe you had a sixth sense and did it just get colder in here?!  And, OMG, my son sees dead people!

"Hoo, hoo," you said.  Instantly, I saw the cardinal in the bare braches of the tree in our backyard. You have quite the eye, or maybe I need glasses.  I love guessing games, but I'm looking forward to some conversation.  I'm sure I'll hear from you soon enough, though some days it's hard not to let my imagination get carried away.  Anyway, I thought I'd take a little space here to tell you what I've been thinking.

When (if) I have some free-time, between three meal-times, snack-time, juicebox-time (hydration is key), peek-a-boo-time, general-run-around-the-house-time, story-time, laundry-time (you're a big help, really!), N-A-P-time when I pretend to sleep until you fall asleep, and finally bath-time, I sometimes like to daydream (or think about why, WHY? do all the girls on Teen Mom wear VS PINK sweats head-to-toe: coincidental bad taste or what?). But, seriously, I mostly think about us and how our lives have gone and where they will go and if I'm being a patient parent and if I'm living a life that sets a good example for you.

I hope that one day many, many years from now when someone asks you (in a non-awkward, think-y way): So, what's your story?, that you'll have plenty of good things to say.  I want you to know that we are all writing our own stories the best we can.  There is no greater entity like Fate or Destiny holding the ink pen for you, making all the character and plot decisions--that is ALL YOU.  Sure, there will be things that you want to cross out and people you want to erase, but that is the beauty of a story.  If ever in your life things aren't going in the direction you want, remember you are holding the pen.  And even though there are no re-dos, just keep on writing the right way. Can you tell we've been reading Oh, the Places You'll Go lately?

Even at 18 months you are a pro with the pen.  You always try to sneak them out of your Dad's pocket when he comes home from work.  So, I'm sure you'll know just what to do.  I hope you never write us out of your story, son, because we want to share our stories with you and see what all the chapters to come will hold!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stay at Home

I always thought I’d be more successful by now, is a thought many women (and men) sometimes have at year’s end when it’s customary to consider what we’ve accomplished (bought my eighteenth pair of brown leather boots!) and, perhaps, have not accomplished (donated seventeen pairs of brown leather boots to a deserving boot charity).

I had a thought similar to this when attacking one of my New Year resolutions; well, actually, I was sharing a pop-tart with my fifteen month old—not a resolution, I’ll get to that part—and observing our surroundings. See, my undergraduate diploma hangs, there, on the wall above a gigantic teddy bear whose head nods whimsically atop his over-stuffed belly so that he appears constantly slumbering in hibernation.

Dreamy, I think.
Moo, says my son.

Ironic, is what I think of the unintentional design in my Office-converted-haphazardly-into-a-play-room. There’s tents and tunnels amongst ten or twelve variations of the Woody doll and also every size, color, and texture of ball on the market. Oh, and giraffes. Who doesn’t like giraffes? The room is seriously a couple of Duplo blocks away from an episode of Hoarders.

Anyway, I recently scribbled on scrap paper:

New Year Resolutions:
-Organize toy room.
Meaning, I had already surrendered the “Office” part. There it was in black and white: Toy. Room. Trying to create anything in this shrinking enclave of ink pens and a virus-ridden lap-top (due to neglect, obviously) is too stressful. Even the office chair, which served as the demarcation line, a clear symbol of this is office, that is playroom, had to be removed. The residents of Playroom were using it as a climbing wall. Now the desk on which the laptop sits serves as Playroom’s official Place-For-Found-Dangerous-Objects-That-No-One-Can-Reach-For-Now.

It might as well be called “don’t” and not desk: “Don’t pull on that drawer,” “Don’t touch those pens,” “Don’t crawl under there and yank out the computer cable (and all the electrical wiring in the wall).”

Over the months, the “don’t” collects old post-its littered with grocery lists, pen caps, and piles of unused or barely used journals. Leather-bound, floral, large, pocket-sized, lined and blank. Christmas gifts, impulse buys. Sometimes I kneel in front of the “don’t,” carefully open my lap-top and listen to it whirr, perhaps intending to do some vague form of work. But that’s as far as I get. The “don’t" is really just a relic like the Diploma written in Latin hanging ironically behind me.

The good old days?

No, I have the best of days ahead me. The work I do at home—supervising pudding painting (and eating), singing an off-key version of the Itsy Bitsy Spider with a few improved dance moves thrown in for giggles—is the most rewarding work I could ask for. Even the conversations I have at home that go: “Quack, Quack,” and then, “Quack, Quack, Quack,” are way more interesting than any water-cooler chit chat I’ve had the pleasure of hearing friends recount.

If work is not what makes us who we are, then I want my son to know I’m not just a stay-at-home-mom, I’m a stay-at-home-Molly. And, also, it’s not a “don’t,” it's a desk. Really. But let’s, me and you, put that part of life off for as long as we possibly can, kiddo.  To rephrase my opening thought, when I look at you, son, I’m more successful than I ever thought I’d be. And I hope you are too one day.